January 2012 Archives

Chapter 5

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Hallucinations: Experiencing something that isn't present. Hallucinations are realistic perceptions by a person with the absence of any external stimulant. When someone is under the influence of a hallucination, their brain is just as active as it would be if it were physically engaging with such reality.
If a person experiences a hallucination, they may be deemed as psychologically disturbed, but as research shows this is not the case. Some cultures even go out of their way to induce such experience upon themselves.
These perceived realities are much more common than one would expect. Surveys reveal that 10 to 14 percent (and even as high as 39 percent) of college students have hallucinated once during the day without assistance of drugs or other forces.
So besides drugs, what causes one to hallucinate? Visual hallucination can be brought upon the lack of oxygen and senses. For example, people are known to float in warm water in dark silence. What this does is it completely deprives you of your senses so you hallucinate to compensate for the lack of sensory stimulation.

Chapter ten is about the argument of nature versus nurture in psychology. In this chapter they start out with the story of the Genian quadruplets. They were four identical quadruplets girls, and all suffered from schizophrenia. But what was really interesting to me is how the four girls developed. Although they all suffered from the same disease, they developed it at different times, and with much different severities. That is interesting because from my prior knowledge of psychology, which isn't much, I would have figured they would have developed the disease at same and at the same time. To me it's obvious that it must have been their environments that cause this difference in the four, because what else was different? Because they were all genetically equal. As I read farther in the book, I realized this did not necessarily have to be true, that there were arguments against it. As the book later explained, there can be developments in the embryo that can cause differences in kids. That could explain why they were different, because they came out seventeen minutes apart. But I just don't buy it, I feel like it must be from the environment they grew up in. That was the most interesting parts of the chapter to me, and if anyone has other solutions to why they developed differently, that would be great.


Chapter 8

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Psych Chapter 8

Language: Largely arbitrary system of communication that combines symbols in rule-based ways to convey meaning/ accomplish a goal--sounds and words don't resemble their meanings
Tends to be automatic: requires little attention, even though it requires the coordination of cognitive, social and physical skills
4 levels:
Phonemes: Sounds our vocal apparatus produces
Roughly 100 total in language--English contains about 40-45
Morphemes: Smallest meaningful units of speech
Created by stringing phonemes together, and sometimes are words (dog, -ish, re-)
Semantics: Meaning derived from words and sentences
Syntax: Grammatical rules that govern how words are composed into meaningful strings
Morphological markers: Grammatical elements that modify words by adding sounds to tem to change their meaning (-ing, -s)
Idealized version of the language
Extralinguistic information: Elements of communication that aren't part of the content of language but are critical to interpreting its meaning
Nonverbal cues: facial expression, tone, gestures, posture
Dialects: Language variations used by a group of people who share geographic proximity or ethnic background
Sound symbolism: Certain words seems to have intrinsic meaning--languages for "mom" all start with m/n, and "dad" with b/d/p - relates to children's development

High-amplitude sucking procedure: Experiment that shows that newborns prefer their mother's native language by measuring how much they suck on a pacifier--shows that they begin language learning while still in mother's womb
Babbling: Intention vocalization that lacks specific meaning
All babies initially share the same basic phoneme categories regard of parents' native language
By 10 months, babies have phonemes that are adjusted to native language
Comprehension precedes production: Children are learning to recognize and interpret words well before they can produce them
Begin comprehension around 9-10 months, producing words around 1st birthday
Word growth grows exponentially as children grow after first year
Overextension/Underextension: Applying words in a broader sense/ in a narrow sense
One word stage: Early period of development when children use a single word to convey an entire thought
By age two, they reach Two-word phrases
Even before they can use phrases, they understand syntactic rules to put sentences together

Sign Language
Uses same type of rules for syntax, structure, organization, etc
Same area for processing language is activated with sign language; developmental stages are similar to spoken language
Earlier to learn a language, the better - motivation and context really matter
Metalinguistic: Awareness of how language is structured and used
People who learn languages later in life use different parts of their brain
Homesign: System of signs invented by deaf children of hearing parents who receive no language input
Age of exposure influences a person's ability to learn a language greatly: Test of Chinese and Korean immigrants--as age increases, proficiency gradually declines
Sensitive period: Period during which people are more receptive to learning and can acquire new knowledge easily
"Less is more" hypothesis: Children have limited information-processing abilities, fewer analytic skills, and less specific knowledge about how language works
Learn more naturally and gradually from the "ground up"

Theoretical Accounts of Language-Acquisition
Imitation Account (NUTURE): Children learn language through imitation
Language is generative: Allowing an infinite number of unique sentences to be created by combining words in novel ways
- questions behaviorist theory of reinforcement to learn language

Nativist Account (NATURE): Account of language acquisition that suggests children are born with some basic knowledge of how language works
Language acquisition device: Hypothetical organ in the brain in which knowledge of syntax resides
Overregularization errors: Applying syntax where it shouldn't be
-Claims are difficult to falsify, and tend to explain everything, which makes it useless
Social Pragmatics Account: Children infer what words and sentences mean from context and social interactions
-Assumes that children have very strongly developed social skills that allow them to understand people
General Cognitive Processing Account: Children's ability to learn language results from general skills that children apply across a variety of activities
Ability to perceive, learn and recognize patterns may be all that is needed to understand language
-However, adults are better at learning everything except languages
-Parts of brain stimulated differences from language to other learning patterns

Animal Communication
Most species communicate most often under the circumstances of sex and violence
"Bee Dance" is one of the few examples of animals communicating beyond "here and now"
Most animals, like chimps, learn very differently than humans and can't deduct syntax
Thinking and Language

Linguistic Determinism: View that all thought is represented verbally and that, as a result, our language defines our thinking
Do words increase our subtle perceptions, or do we simply have more words for obvious things?
Test of paralyzing vocal cords and still thinking--falsified Watson's hypothesis and showed that we don't think by using sub vocal language
Curare: Drug that paralyzes muscles and skeleton but leaves patient conscious
Also refuted because people can perform complex tasks before talking about them
Linguistic relativity (Sapir-Whorf hypothesis): View that characteristics of language shape our thought processes
People remember events better when they occur in the language they are describing them in
Some cultures have very few distinctions for colors
Still perceive all colors, just don't have words for them


Stroop Test: Named for Richard Stroop- shows that reading is automatic and hard to inhibit - children have a much easier time than adults b/c their reading is effortful
In order to read, one must - 1. Realize writing is meaningful; 2. Understand writing is in a direction; 3. Recognize letters of the alphabet; 4. Letters correspond to a specific sound
Whole word recognition: Reading strategy that involves identifying common words based on their appearance without having to sound them out
Phonetic decomposition: Reading strategy that involves sounding out words by drawing correspondences between printed letters and sounds
Research shows that sound-letter correspondences are effect to get children reading, even though mature readers generally rely on whole word recognition
Generally, the fast that one reads the more they miss
Speed reading programs are popular b/c of perception that fast readers comprehend more--which they do, but that's because they are smart...
Mind can handle ~400 words per minute

Thinking and Reasoning
Thinking: Any mental activity or processing of information, including learning, remembering, perceiving, communicating, believing, and deciding
Cognitive Economy
We use heuristics to simplify the world--Gigerenzer "Fast and frugal" thinking
Top-down processing is used so we don't need to think as much
Concept: Our knowledge and ideas about a set of objects, actions, and or characteristics that share core properties
Decision making: The process of selecting among a set of possible alternatives
Almost always takes into account many factors
Wilson- Study of which posters to take home--showed that people who "went with their gut" were more happier  emotional decisions are better to not think about oftentimes
Framing: The way a question is formulated which can influence the decisions people make
Neuroeconomics: Interest in the way the brain works when making financial decisions
Shows that people DO NOT use same areas of decision making in brain when receiving advice from professionals
Problem solving: Generating a cognitive strategy to accomplish a goal
Algorithms: Step-by-step learned procedure used to solve a problem
Analogies between 2 topics help us to solve problems b/c we relate similar structures
1. Salience of surface similarities
We tend to focus our attention on the superficial properties of a problem, and try to solve them using knowledge in relation to similar surface characteristics
Trains--one with division and one with subtraction- fact that trains are involved doesn't help...
2. Mental Sets
Phenomenon of becoming stuck in a specific problem-solving strategy, inhibiting our ability to generate alternatives
3. Functional Fixedness
People experience difficulty conceptualizing that an object can be used for multiple purposes

Our biggest advantage over computers is our ability of top-down processing
Embodied accounts of thinking: Our knowledge is organized and accessed in a manner that enables us to similar our actual experiences

Blog 1- chaper 13

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Chapter 13 is all about social psychology, which is the study of how people influence others' behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes-for both good and bad. For the most part, others have positive influences over us. But one idea that was introduced right away and captured my attention was the social comparison theory. This theory is based on the idea that we evaluate our abilities and beliefs by comparing them with those of others. Social comparisons can be made in two different ways, upward social comparisons ( comparing ourselves to people we deem superior) and downward social comparisons (comparing ourselves to people we deem inferior). This immediately made me think of the pressure for perfection in our society and how we are taught to be competitive at a very young age.

In high school, I was really close with two people who were twins. But unlike most twins that I knew, they spent extremely little time together and the competition to appear to be the "better" twin was almost uncomfortable to witness. The girl twin was bubbly, extremely social, and a sweetheart to everyone, except for her brother. The boy twin was a little bit shyer, but still was really involved in school. But only when I would be at their house did I experience the depth of the competition. They both tried to do better in school than the other, and have better relations with not only their friends, but their parents as well. No one told these two when they were young to compete against each other, so what made them start? Is the social pressures of society becoming too much at a young age?


This chapter is about the importance of using research methods based on scientific thinking to insure that the experiment designs and research are beneficial, valid and ethical. I find that everything if this chapter is useful because it is the basics and the guidelines to all general experiments, including key definitions and types of research methods. Still, one thing stood out to me: The ethics of an experiment. During this part of the chapter, they discussed a medical experiment referred to as Tuskegee. In this experiment in Alabama 399 men who had Syphilis were observed and untreated by the doctors, without the knowledge that they even had this disease. As a result, many died, infected their wives and bore children with Syphilis (Lilienfeld, 67). Now there is a procedure called informed consent requiring that the participant must know about the experiment beforehand. Tuskegee left me with many questions: What is the limit for scientist? Should they risk the comfort and possibly lives of the participates for the sake of scientific discoveries? Even if participants do agree to extreme experiments? And most of all, why didn't the doctors in Tuskegee stop when they realized that the experiment was causing deaths? This was so intriguing to me because I believe that all humans have a responsibility to each other. I could not understand why someone would risk someone else's life for anything. Not even scientific discoveries.

Chapter 16

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Chapter 16 of the Lilienfeld textbook discusses who seeks psychotherapy and the different kinds of therapy available as well as biomedical treatments. People seek treatment for many reasons including struggling with specific problems, general feelings like helplessness that inhibit daily activities, and a desire to expand one's awareness. Interestingly, more women than men seek psychotherapy although the need for it is likely equal. I guess we men still find the social stigma intimidating.

There are many types of therapy one can seek out. Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and many variations of approach. Psychoanalysis seeks to understand the unconscious (or in later years the concious) and reduce feelings of guilt through a case study approach. Freud is the person that usually come to mind when we think of psychoanalysis. However, the practice is much older than Freud.

Humanistic therapies focus on insight into oneself. They use self-actualization to assist people to realize their natural positive human nature. Cognitive behavioral therapies seek to change behavior to improve oneself and stop behaviors that negatively impact thoughts.

These are some of the therapies used to help people make positive changes in their lives. There are many more approaches out there. Some therapies are well researched and documented using the scientific method. Others are not so well documented and may include claims that are not falsifiable or correlations untested for causal relationships.

It is estimated that 20% of Americans have had some form of therapy. With numbers that high it is important to seek out treatments with proven track records and avoid therapies that make unsubstantiated claims. Buyer beware, is a good motto to keep in mind when looking for therapies. People also respond differently to the various therapeutic approaches and drugs which adds to the confusion when trying to find the "right therapy" for them.

Along with therapy are biomedical approaches. There are a large number of psychiatric drugs in use and being developed. Electroconvulsive therapy (electrical stimulation of the brain) is used in some cases of severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Surgery is sometimes used as a last resort to treat some psychological disorders.

The number of available treatments for psychiatric problems is vast and confusing. As a result it seems there is a need for those with problems to seek out reputable help and guidance when trying to navigate through all the possibilities.

Though the entire chapter centered on consciousness was intriguing, I was surprised to see such a large portion of it dedicated to Hypnosis. Defined as "a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors" (Kirsch & Lynn, 1998). Hypnosis seems like such a strange, far-fetched entity that I believe most people ignore it, or don't see it as a legitimate practice and write it off as something fake. A huge part of this disbelief may come from the portrayal of hypnosis in media and television. It is often the butt of a joke or simply overdramatized and treated like something fantastical. It's a way to make people do silly things that they would never do were they not in a hypnotic state. However, there are other instances where it has helped solve crime or benefitted clinical psychology practice.
I found this section intriguing because I've had two real life encounters with hypnosis. The first as a freshman in high school in a cruise ship variety show. I was one of many who were "hypnotized" for the performance. I went through all of the motions they put me through, where my biggest thing was that I had to speak a fake language. I was completely aware of everything the entire time but when I came back o my seat my mother was convinced otherwise. Though I felt as if I had simply played along, she was convinced I wouldn't have had I not been at least somewhat "under." Afterwards I started to believe her. The other opportunity I had to witness hypnosis was during a high school graduation event put on by our high school. The people hypnotized during this came out of it very much dazed and confused with no recollection of what they had done. And some of the things they had done definitely didn't seem like things they would have consciously done.According to our textbook, most people actually do remember everything, which I found surprising as I thought that it simply didn't work on me. It also discusses how people who respond positively to the suggestions they receive while under hypnosis will respond to a few more than they would in a normal state, but that hypnosis is not enough to make someone act completely against their nature.
Is hypnosis really so strong a force? Or merely a method that opens people up just a bit more than they were already? Do you think it's a legitimate tool in psychology or is it still too pseudoscientific?

I really liked reading this chapter, for the reason that it kind of got me thinking in circles and questioning my own beliefs. For instance, I have always believed in the "hot hand" in sports, and had never really thought of it as a supernatural phenomena, but as a fact (something to do with muscle memory, I assumed). That got me thinking, well if THAT'S just due to a random sequence, then why did I believe in that, and what else do I perceive as fact that can only be attributed to chance?

The chapter also kind of slapped me in the face with the "Not Me Fallacy". I'm not saying I'm cocky, because I'm betting that most people tend to think similarly (although, damned if I know...), but I all too frequently find the little person in my mind smirking and smugly crossing his arms after I decide that I am totally objective and open-minded. I've never thought of myself as smug before, but for some reason that word kept popping into my head as I read.

And yet, at the same time, I almost felt MORE smug after reading this chapter. Now I know about all of these psychological terms, and I can totally pin them on my younger sister when she's trying to convince me of something, and I'll know I'm right because I read it in a psych text... which, in turn, gets me really frustrated, because half of this chapter was about exactly why that sort of thinking is dangerous.

Damn. Well, I'm excited for the course.

In Chapter 3, biological psychology is discussed. Much time is spend conveying the function and components of neurons, the message conveyors of the neurological system, and of the brain, the control center of the system. Genetics, the spinal cord, and the endocrine system are also mentioned, though to a lesser extent. One of the most interesting portions, though short, conveys a story that I first heard in high school psychology. This is the story of Phineas Gage.


Gage was working as a railroad foreman in rural Vermont. During an average work day, which involved breaking up rock formations with gunpowder, the tamping iron he used to press the gunpowder in was rocketed upward from an explosion, driving it through his skull and destroying much of his frontal lobe, as well as his left eye. He miraculously survived, but was described as being "no longer Gage." The accident left him, apparently once a happy and level-headed man, "fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity." The drastic personality change is quite disturbing, but when considering the importance of the brain to human anatomy, it isn't hard to believe such an accident could change a person so significantly.

Blog #1, Chapter 7 - Memory

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You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Chapter 7 talks about different types of memory and how it works. One thing that caught my eye was the difference between retroactive interference and proactive interference. Retro active is when something you’ve learned before is challenged by things you may be learning. The example in the book is languages. If you are a fluent English speaker learning Spanish, sometimes some of your Spanish vocab can work it’s way into your sentences.


Proactive interference is the opposite. When you are learning something new, sometimes your previous knowledge can get in the way. I’ve had this occur many times while playing sports. I may have learned one way of throwing a softball, or shooting a puck, and mastered the mechanics. But all coaches are different, sometimes they have you change up what you’ve trained your body to do. The book says that this will often take longer that the first time you learned the move, and will take more practice. This makes sense.

Im sure most of you if not all of you have heard of the scientific method before, but what surprised me about this course and psychology in general was how empirical it actually can be. I was always under the impression that psychology was more of a "Yes, but how does that make you feel?" approach to science. Chapter one went over this in detail, as well as how to be a critical scientific thinker.

Its alarming to think how few people actually exhibit these kinds of self regulation on their own beliefs and ideals. Whether your from northern Minnesota, Wisconsin (Moo!) or any other obnoxiously speaking state, (looking at you New Jersey) we all have our accents, and we were all flabbergasted in third grade when we discovered other people hear us differently then we do.

Being skeptical may not make you as many friends, but it will save you lots of money from not having to buy the latest workout phenomena on tv, believing stories from slightly deranged homeless men on the street, or even being guilted into donating to fight alien abduction rates in the southwest. All in all, being aware of your own belief perseverance, as well as challenging said beliefs, will make you a more well rounded person as well as a scientific thinker. Not too mention this way of thinking will help to avoid getting pranked on the regular.

Intelligence & Chapter 9

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What really is intelligence? Many psychologists have been trying to figure out the meaning of this idea. Psychologist Spearman proposed that it is a combination of g (general intelligence) and s (specific abilities.) IQ tests demonstrate that items answered correctly have a positive correlation seeming to show that general intelligence determines how well a tester does overall. The specific abilities relate to specific questions and are different for those with the same IQ. Raymond Cattell and John Horn suggested that intelligence is composed of fluid intelligence(ability to learn to solve new problems) and crystallized intelligence(accumulated knowledge.) Sternberg hypothesized that the three components of intelligence are analytical(book smarts), practical(street smarts), and creative intelligence.

I wonder myself what intelligence is and must admit that the definition is certainly evasive. For example: A brilliant scholar may be reared in a intellectual home or have smart genes or both. How can we isolate the environment from heredity? I have considered the effect of determination and effort that a given student puts into learning versus the amount of time spent watching movies or playing video games. Surely, personal motivation has some impact on the overall intelligence of a person. On the other hand, there are those that put in their best effort but still struggle in school because they just can't grasp the concepts as quickly as other students. I am amazed at the many applications of various kinds of intelligence in everyday life.

Blog #1, Chapter 12

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The chapter 12 talked about dealing with stress and their effects on our body conditions. Obviously stress could cause many physicial and psychological problems, and under stress for a long time would result some dieases, The book also talked about healthy liftstyle that keeping happy is an essential part of it.
What's fun is when people are dealing with potential stress. When meet these events people would only feel stress when they can not cope it and we will start to comfort ourselves emotion, which is more like a kind of flee. In fact if they can flee at that time they would, while in most cases they have to face the stress. It reminds me the first several weeks I came UoM. At that time I meet provlems and unknown challenge as well and there is no way to back to my homeland, so I would felt extremely nervous. While the stress did not help me to overcome it but made it worse, because I kept saying to myself that it will be better only reminded me that the situation is not good.After a long time adapted the environment I feel those stress is meaningless, but nobody can jump from the first stage to the last stage, no matter how strong you are. In my opinion, what made me overcome the stress is the fact that I can not flee.
While although the stress is unnecessary and could cause diseases, does it have advantages? In China parents believe stress can force children learn harder so they leave large amounts of homeworks, and it sounds reasonable as well.

This chapter focused on perception and how our brains process information can have a major impact. For example humans process ambiguous figures differently, that may explain why people see different figures in clouds or paintings. The types of processing are called parallel, bottom-up, and top-down. It is important to understand how our mind perceives things and to be aware of our surroundings. Being aware would help people recognize coincidences are not as rare as one would expect. Awareness about extrasensory perception research might change some of the public's opinion. This chapter also focused on certain parts of the body, like the eyes and ear. It discussed the five senses. The ear and ability to hear most interested me. I have an autistic brother who cannot communicate so he is starting to learn sign language; I am also currently taking a sign language class. It is interesting how sound makes a large impact in our lives and how much we rely on it. Our eyes play a big role in how we perceive shapes, light, and color. Our perception can also trick us, for example the illusion that the moon looks larger when it is by the horizon than in the sky.

Blog 1: Ch. 12

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Ch. 12: Stress, Coping and Health was an interesting chapter for me in the fact that it brought up many interesting points about stress and what stress is, what it can do to us physically as well as emotionally, and how we cope with stress.

While we all think we know what stress is the amazing thing to me is what it can do. Stress has been found to not only cause emotional pain and hardship, but the stressor (stress causing stimuli) is left unhindered for a long period of time, it can start causing physical pain. And this is not just the usual I-got-a-cold-during-finals-week but stress can cause anything from rashes to heart failure.

The thing that stands out the most though is how differently we all deal with stress. In a survey taken just 6 months after 9/11 of people in New York City, an outstanding 65.1% were found to be resilient showing no signs of prolonged stress after the tragic 9/11 attacks. Even more outstanding was that more than half of the people surveyed that were actually in the World Trade Center the day it was attacked showed resiliency. I think those stats alone show a lot about us as a people and how resilient we can be even in the face of such a tragic even as 9/11.

Blog #1: Chapter 4

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Blog post 1.pages

Chapter 4 is all about sensation and perception. When our brain sees an image it immediately begins determining what the image represents. One piece of this chapter that I found particularly interesting was the fact that context influences perception. Our brains perform perceptual sets when our expectations influence our perceptions. Take a look at this image.

Screen Shot 2012-01-26 at 1.31.25 AM.png

Upon first glance it appears to read "The Bat" When in reality the H or A like figure is substituted for the letter our brain wants it to be. We perceive it as "The Bat" because of context of this image. When you think about it, with the amount of images that our brain processes each day, how many images aren't truly what they appear to be?

The most relatable image that comes to my mind of us falling victim to a perceptual set is a price tag. If you notice, virtually every single price tag ends in $.99 or $99. This is because we process the numbers at the beginning of the price tag, naturally reading left to right. An example:

Screen Shot 2012-01-26 at 2.03.41 AM.png

Our brain sees that item as $250, when in fact it is virtually $260. That is not a giant change in price, but it gives the producing firm an additional $10 profit that would otherwise maybe not be earned. Can you think of any other "tricky" images that we face daily? Or do you think it is fair for producers to "mess with our minds" like this?

Chapter 16 covers many unusual forms of treatment for people with mental health issues. It covers several topics including biomedical treatments, spanning from medication to surgery; it also covers several less severe forms of treatments in the form of psychotherapy. One form of psychotherapy that stood out was group therapy. One use of group therapy, which is listed in the book is for Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the main points discussed within alcoholics anonymous is "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic," after reading this I began to think about this statement and how it might have an effect on those people considered alcoholics as well as other people with different so called 'diseases.'

Alcoholic picture.jpg

Alcoholism is one of many problems that people battle others such as eating disorders and cheating (within a relationship) carry many of the same ideas as alcoholism. All of these carry the idea that once it is started it is much like a drug or disease and is a part of you for life, thus the idea "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." Now if these people who supposedly have a disease are told now that they are this type of a person they are always this type of person wouldn't one think that this would in fact make them more self conscious of themselves and make it even more difficult for them to quit, seeing as hearing these words would make ones personality and ego wounded. Imagine if you were the one with the disease and you were told these words; would you find it more difficult to be happy with yourself and quit what you have struggled with for so long?

The Early Stages of Communication
How old were you when you first began to talk? For most of us it was around the age of two or three when we began to form our first simple sentences. However, this was not the start of our understanding of native language, as fetuses in our mothers' wombs we began to recognize repeated sounds, words and language. The process of putting sounds together to make words is a long process, taking months to get the sounds to come out just right, eventually forming words and later sentences. The ability to communicate increases as we grow and learn, even those without a voice are able to sign to others to communicate their complex thoughts and ideas.
As we grow in our understanding of our native languages we are able to make inferences and understand sentences that might have multiple meanings just by relating the sentence to the current context. We also have the ability to fill in missing words or make sense of grammatical errors. Communication also ties into the key concepts of thinking and reasoning. Both these ideas are complex thought processes that can be shared through communication. Without communication, the task of problem solving and decision making would be quite difficult. Information fond in Chapter 8 of Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding Second Edition

Chapter 13 covers the topic of social psychology, or how people affect the actions of others. What I found most interesting was that recent studies show that brainstorming in a group setting is much less effective than brainstorming alone. We often keep some ideas to ourselves, because we are afraid of how others will perceive them. When in groups, we also tend to sit back and let others contribute, also known as 'slacking.'

So next time you are assigned to brainstorm in groups, show no fear! Take the lead and be one of the first to give your input. Do not be afraid about what other people will think of them; by not sharing, you are doing nothing but hurting your group. Like Michael Jordan once said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

As in most scholarly textbooks, "Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding" also starts off with its titles' definition. The first chapter mostly talks about what psychology is, why it is interesting and challenging, why it should be studied, why is it a type of science and scientific thinking, and how it fits into our daily lives. Psychology, the science and study of humans' body and mind, is a very interesting subject because it explains us to ourselves. Psychology defines why you think or act in a certain way. Psychology is the study of 'us.'
In chapter 1, we learn psychology as a science, as a way of thinking. We, the readers, also learn about the misconceptions of psychology, how to prevent biases and how to think scientifically. I think that the most interesting part in the text was when the authors defined the word 'pareidolia' as the likeliness of the human brain believing/interpreting something completely extraordinary or unrelated from the simple visual image the eyes see. Pareidolia seemed to me as if it is something that happened to everyone at least once, and continues to happen. And I feel like it is something we can't really help. If we see a face on the moon, it is pretty hard to erase it from our minds and try not to see a face on the moon again. People who tend to believe in godly miracles might see the word 'God' written on that alligator and they might interpret how this is an example of God sending us a message, instead of thinking that it is only a coincidence. Anyway, why would God necessarily send a message in English? A person with the same religious views who didn't know the word for God in English would not interpret the image the same way.


Why do we believe that we're always right?

Situation 1: Your friend is upset because her boyfriend just broke up with her for someone else.
Your response: "I knew from the beginning that he was no good."

Situation 2: You are watching football with your friends and the Vikings lose.
Your response: "Well I saw that one coming before the game even started..."

We for some reason as humans acquire a sense of satisfaction in the feeling that we're always right. Some may even say borderline cocky at times. This "I knew it all along" mentality is key representation of hindsight bias, which is our tendency to believe that our predictions of results for events, that have already occurred, are correct. The outcome is already known and out there, of course your "prediction" will be correct. But if we are aware of this, why are we all so guilty of this cognitive bias?

Another cognitive bias is overconfidence, another item we have all fallen guilty to. You know when you walk out post-exam thinking "yeah, I ROCKED that test!" Then you get your score back and you totally tanked it. This my friends is a prime example of overconfidence, which is our tendency to overestimate our forecast of events. Generally, we make predictions towards a more positive or "above-average" outcome, yet again another excuse to allow ourselves to be cocky. We feel as if we can beat the odds, take on the world, and get away with anything. But there is a difference between ambition and plain stupidity, its our job try to (hopefully) choose the right path.


image from despair.com

(click on image to enlarge)

I personally found these two items as the most interesting concepts from Chapter 2, mostly due to the fact that we have all committed the acts of hindsight bias and overconfidence. If we "knew it all along" or are "confident in our decisions" wouldn't we be able to prevent fallouts from occurring? We are instead at times blinded by our desire to be right that unfortunately hinder our ability to make good judgements. It's a habit that has us draw misleading conclusions, and sometimes set us up for disappointment. So if this is the case, why do we do it so often?

Have you ever set set something down, even for a second, then forgotten where it was? In chapter 7, we will be learning all about memory, how is works, and how it processes information. One of the things I found most interesting was a side section about a way people try to improve their memories, that may not actually work.
Americans spend several hundred million dollars on Ginkgo per year. Ginkgo, an ancient Chinese medicine extracted from ginkgo trees, supposedly improves one's memory drastically after only 4 weeks of consistent consumption. Or does it?
Controlled studies testing Ginkgo pills against placebos have shown that the drugs effects are minimal to nonexistent. In fact the effect of the drug on your memory is equal about to that of drinking a glass of lemonade. When tested on individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, the effects were just as slight.
Ginkgo pills as memory enhancers? Probably not. But what are its effects then? Well in certain cases Ginkgo can actually be harmful! Many herbal remedies, when taken excessively, can interfere with effects of blood thinning medicines. After reading that my main question was: How can this drug then possibly be legally sold?
Well, it turns out that the FDA no longer regulates diet supplements or herbal remedies. This is why its hard to know if these memory pills actually work and, if they don't, what their true effects are. Shocking! However, perhaps we can all take a psych lesson from this: Remember to be skeptical. And perhaps find another way to remember where you put things.

Blog 1 - Chapter 7

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Chapter 7 is about memory. It discusses different types of memory: sensory, short-term, and long-term, and how we store memory. It explains how memory is more like melting wax than hardened metal, and a memory over time can change depending on our expectations and beliefs. It goes on to talk about how memory works, the biology of a memory, helpful tools to help you remember something more accurately, and false memories.
What I think is the most interesting is false memories, and how memories change over time. Even a childhood memory can change depending on your environment. If you remember an event a specific way, but your parent insists something happened that you do not remember, it is very likely that suggestion will also become a part of your memory, becoming a false memory, making you think it really happened whether it did or not. My parents believe my youngest memory is false because we have a home video of that event. However, I remember details not included in the video, making me think it is a real memory. The interesting part is I don't know how much is real memory and how much was suggested over time.

Chapter 13: Social Psychology

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I really liked the chapter on social psychology because it had a lot of information on our day to day life and how we affect each other in group situations. One of the ideas I related to a lot was social comparison theory which says that we "evaluate our abilities and beliefs by comparing them with those of others." It goes on to explain that we compare ourselves in two ways: to those who seem superior to us in some ways and to those who seem inferior to us in some ways. When thinking about comparing myself to someone superior I immediately assumed it would be in a negative way to myself. The book explains that comparing myself to someone slightly more talented than I am might inspire me to try harder or to see that the goal I seek is within my reach because that person can do it. This type of comparison is called upward social comparison. In the opposite, downward social comparison, the book references reality TV shows and how they are probably popular because of this factor. It's an interesting thought when looking at shows such as 16 and Pregnant, Jersey Shore, Real World, etc.

Another thing I was interested in is called social facilitation. This refers to how people (and animals) perform when being viewed by others. The theory suggests that when performing a task that we feel comfortable with, the presence of others will cause us to perform better than we would in other circumstances. This can be a crowd of people watching, but it can also be other people performing the same task with us (a bike race was the example the book used). On the other hand, the presence of others can also cause us to perform worse, or choke, if we are uncomfortable either with the task or with the presence of people there. I'm an avid sports fan, so this hit home as it's easy to see on a daily basis in the sports world. Some athletes consistently perform on a higher level in the important games whereas others consistently are disappointing when in the same situation. Another interesting example of this in the animal world is an experiment that was performed with cockroaches. Half were given a maze to run by themselves and the others were given a maze while being watched from a "spectator box" by other cockroaches. The group that was being watched consistently performed better. I thought it was really interesting that the animal they decided to test was the cockroach and that the test came up with the expected result based on the theory. I'm curious to know if they tried the test with other groups of animals.

Could emotion and motivation be the criteria that distinguish humans from animals? According to American ethologist Marc Bekoff in his book "Animals matter (2007)" animals not only feel joy and anger but also can sympathize or lament. The most primal and basic desires directly related to survival such as craving for food or sexual drive are needlessly to say prominently observable from animals. However, when it comes to more complicated emotion such as love and hatred or motivation like self-esteem, the answer could be different.
In chapter eleven we are to learn about emotion and motivation. The most interesting thing I found about emotion is that it always accompanies physical reaction. We can tell a person is sad by flood of tears shedding from the eyes. But does emotion trigger physical reaction or is it all the way reverse? There are theories of emotion that gives answer for what causes our feelings.
We also learn why we feel hungry by the action of the hypothalamus. Hunger is one of the primary needs linked to survival but there are people suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. We can identify the symptoms and causes.

Blog #1 - Ch. 2

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No feeling could be more devastating than the feeling of never being able to communicate love. All humans desire and genuinely want to be loved as well as to hear that they mean something to somebody close to them. Unfortunately, not everybody is blessed enough to receive this positive feedback from their loved ones. Several people with infantile autism lack the ability to talk or communicate. The parents of those who have infantile autism will never hear their kid tell them how much they mean to them.

Through the development of a technique called facilitated communication, parents and their mute children were finally able to talk to each other. An adult facilitator would guide the child's hands across a keyboard of some sort, and help them write what they wanted to say. The success of this technique was overwhelming and parents around the world could not have been happier. Finally, their dreams have become reality and all was right in the world.

Perhaps these conversations were "working" simply due to the fact that the parents wanted them too. It may have been an extraordinary claim, to be able to talk to someone who is mute, but it was important enough to them that they were able to block out all evidence disproving the validity with ease. Unfortunately, as studies soon began to show, the children weren't really using this technique to talk at all. It was essentially a "scientific" version of an Ouija board. The adult would unknowingly guide the child's hand and therefore the sentences were really being produced by the facilitator, and not the child.

It is understandable these parents would want to hold on to the belief that their children were talking to them. Unfortunately extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Researchers began to test this technique using a more rigorous research design. They found many imperfections with facilitated communication. In fact, when tested, nearly 100 percent of the trials showed that the words on the paper were coming from the adult facilitator entirely and not the child.

Chapter 6: Learning

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Chapter six introduces us to the concept of Learning, specifically how nurture changes us. One subject in particular, punishment, struck me as very interesting. Punishment is defined as "any outcome that weakens the probability of a response." It details the differences between positive and negative reinforcement, and how deciding which punishment to use can greatly affect the response of those being punished.

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A book I read last year, called There Are No Children Here, depicted two young boys growing up in the projects of Chicago. In one instance, the youngest boy named Pharoah was suspended from school due to a streak of tardiness. However, what the school did not realize is that Pharoah was not provided with adequate transportation and he had to take numerous city buses through violent parts of town each morning. It was out of his control if the bus was late or had to stop because of gang violence. According to page 215 of the textbook, punishment tells an organism what not to do. So in reality, Pharoah was suspended for trying to get to school-- which in the poorest of communities is not something children usually aspire to do. Consequently, this resulted in Pharoah not wanting to go at all. In other words, the schools punishment backfired because it did not allow or help pharaoh change his tardiness.

When I was first assigned chapter 15 in our textbook, I was a little disappointed that it was so deep into our required reading, but when I opened up my book and started reading I was pleasantly surprised. I was so interested that a 15-20 minute skim wouldn't be sufficient and I had to read every word. The most interesting thing about this chapter was being able to read about the truth behind the psychological disorders that are frequently depicted in TV shows and movies. Reading about statistics and case studies for disorders like schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), and bipolar disorder made me realize that the psychological disorders on TV shows and in movies are either examples of extremely rare symptoms of those disorders or completely inaccurate portrayals. Other interesting sections of chapter 15 were the sections on panic disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I found these sections interesting because as a Marine, I have a lot of experience with fellow Marines dealing with PTSD and I am currently dealing with a panic disorder related to combat in Afghanistan. It was nice to read about symptoms and origins of disorders that I am very familiar with. Overall chapter 15 was worth the time to read and was very interesting. I can't wait to discuss it in depth and broaden my knowledge of psychological disorders, their symptoms and causes.

Chapter three largely covers the biological and physical aspects of the brain's makeup. Among discussing various functions and chemicals involved, it also mentioned briefly the EEG. The EEG, or electroencephalograph, is a noninvasive, external test used to monitor brain activity. It is conducted by the connection of up to 200 some electrodes to scalp and face, and then recording the electrical activity generated by the brain. I had a prolonged EEG (overnight) conducted on me during my freshman year of high school to determine the cause of a series of unknown pseudo seizures I had been having. Because of the brain activity, the doctors were able to rule out true seizures, but due to the fact that EEGs do not show exactly where in the brain the activity occurs, little else was revealed.


This is an interesting link that shows how this technology could someday help "brain-dead" or comatose patients communicate with the outside world.


photo credit: depts.washington.edu

Blog 1:Chapter 1

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In chapter one, the authors discuss the importance of scientific thinking and how important it is to distinguish fact from fiction. Admittedly they say that it is not always as clear cut as you would believe. Many things we perceive as true even without any hard evidence, simply because someone told us or it seems "right". An idea that caught my eye from chapter one was Scientific Skepticism. Before this course I thought of skepticism as pessimism and always questioning everyone. From the reading I discovered that it means "to consider carefully" and that you should be wary of claims. This does not mean however that you shouldn't keep an open mind that the claims may be true, but you must consider them carefully and look at the evidence before believing them whole heartedly.

I discovered recently that it is smart to be skeptical about claims that seem too good to be true. While on vacation with my family in Florida, a realtor in the building where we rent a beach house from offered to give my dad free dinner and free golf passes and hotel stay at a golf resort. All they had to do was go to a meeting about time shares. My dad went and ended up having to spend 3 or more hours there, looking at these time shares and ended up leaving early without the rewards because it was so ridiculous. In this case he should have realized it was a trap to get you to agree to buy a time share. If he would have thought about why they would be giving all that away, he would have realized it most likely was a waste of time.

For this assignment, I reviewed Chapter 16: Psychological and Biological Treatments, which examines and explores a broad range of psychological and biological therapies that are designed to alleviate emotional suffering. One topic this chapter explains is psychosurgery, or brain surgery that treats psychological disorders. I found this topic interesting because I had never heard of psychosurgery before. According to the book, psychosurgery was a popular form of surgery until the 1950s, when reports surfaced that told of patients becoming "dehumanized zombies" after the surgery. Today, psychosurgery is performed as a last resort for people who suffer from severe OCD, depression, and/or bipolar disorder.

I know that if I had one of these conditions, I would choose not to have psychosurgery as I would not want to lose the aspects of my mind that make me human. Instead, I would opt for more traditional treatments such as medication.


I'd like to begin by pointing out the fact that I've never really written a blog before, so this is a new experience for me. Well, here I go!

The chapter I read for my blog entry was on psychological and biological treatments in psychology. One thing that stuck out to me was the explanation of what psychodynamic therapist's approach to therapy and psychological problems. I for one am very cautious to pinpoitn psychological problems on anything that isn't at the least thoroughly backed up in order to avoid acceptance of ideas not fully supported. That is why I have a problem with psychodynamic therapy.

First off psychodynamic therapist's believe that the causes of abnormal behaviors stem from traumatic or other childhood experiences. I believe there may be truth behind this belief some of the time, but I also don't think every abnormal behavior stems from childhood; that and I'm not sure that there's actual distinct causation between childhood experiences and abnormal behavior. I want evidence!

Second psychodynamic therapist's believe that when their client's achieve insight into previously unconscious material, the causes/symptoms of their abnormalities will become evident and will in turn usually lead to the abnormal behavior's end. My main problem with this belief is that there isn't any substantial evidence pointing towards an acute human characteristic of the suppression of memories (though there are exceptions). As far as I'm concerned the belief that unconscious thoughts must be unearthed and in effect the client will be treated has been in some ways harmful for the client--an example being the unearthing of fake memories of child abuse that has occasionally occurred (or so I've heard).

I'm done ranting! Overall I believe psychodynamic therapist's need to change their priorities in their approach to therapy.

Blog #1, Chapter One

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"Birds of a feather flock together" "opposites attract"
In chapter one, the book discusses the many mental traps that students, and even researchers can fall into from time to time. The two common sayings above, taken from our textbook, are a great example of one of these issues. We like to believe that we are always, or nearly always correct in our thinking. This is why we can see two similar people walking down the street and say, "birds of a feather flock together," and then five minutes later see a seemingly mismatched couple and say, "opposites attract" and we don't even notice the complete contradiction in our logic, until it is pointed out to us.
My own example of this happened around Christmastime, when my family was separating out the presents, and the younger kids all ran to find which of theirs was the biggest. "Bigger is better." However, when my mom received a necklace in a small box, she said, "The best things come in small packages." We say things like this all of the time, without realizing the complete contradiction that is present.


Nature versus Nurture
In chapter 14 of the Lilienfeld textbook, it discusses personality. What is personality? What determines your personality? How is it measured? And, can you change your personality? These are among the many types of questions asked in chapter 14. In the following video, you can see some of the ideas that were common in the early 1960s regarding the nature versus nurture debate.

Video Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq28qCklEHc

The Jets (the group in the video) say that in the papers, the police read that "Juvenile Delinquents" act the way they do on account of the way they were raised and their environment. Their behaviors and even personality thus spring from nurture.

One part of the chapter that I found especially interesting was talking about twins and personality similarities. One pair of identical twins discussed, Oskar Stohr and Jack Yufe, were separated at birth, raised in completely different environments, and established very different sets of values, one Jewish and the other an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer. Despite these staunch differences in ideologies, they had extremely similar, almost identical personality traits. In this, nature seems to be more of an influence than nurture.

Many people, myself included, hold the view that both nature and nurture hold a place in establishing personality. With myself and my siblings, we share some DNA, and mostly a similar environment (with the exception of birth order and such), but our personalities are all different. We all have in us through our familial environment, a wish to help other people, but we all exhibit this helpful personality in different ways, ranging from giving advice to offering physical assistance to being an emotional helper by listening. Our personal nature and nurture together make our personalities.

Chapter 8 discusses the intricacies and the importance of language and how it develops. It then goes on to discuss how people think and reason. Language is something that is often over rated for many people. We take for granted just how necessary and amazing this skill is. A question is apparent when you look at these parts of language. How did it all start? Scientists have debated this thought for a long time. Some argue that it was simply the development of more complex social situations that required something, i.e. language, to get their thoughts across clearly to one another. They also wonder when is the best time to learn language is. We have all heard that it is easier to learn multiple languages as a child. Scientists are trying to find the time in development that is most accommodating for learning multiple languages.

Humans naturally and instinctively think heuristically. We think and reason using problem solving skills and decision making skills. We observe the outside world, internalize it, store the knowledge, and are able to come back at a later time and reason with ourselves and think through certain situations. There are several different models. One of them is to think of the brain as a computer or machine. The information goes in, runs algorithms, and spits out an answer. While theories exist about just how exactly the brain works, we may still be far away from a clear, universal model.

Blog #1- Chapter 3

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Chapter 3 dives into biological psychology, which refers to the study of the relationship between the nervous system and behavior. The section I found most intriguing in this chapter is the "Which Side of Our Brain Do We Use for What?" section. There is a psychomythology piece in this section about "right-brain" vs. "left-brain" people and if these types of people exist. To my surprise, there has been no research done to prove its validity. According to research, we use both sides of our brain in a complimentary way. I believe that is true, however, I'm surprised to read that there is no valid research on whether we can be classified as left-brain or right-brain individuals or logical and analytical or creative and emotional. I say this because I have never personally met anyone that has a lot of characteristics in both. Most people I've encountered either are good at math and science or writing, language, and art. However, I haven't done any particular research on the subject to probe further into people's lives. I am better at writing, language, and art and from my experience have been worse at math and science. I also don't like math and science though, so I spend the least amount of time doing it as possible. Could it be that we're better at what we enjoy doing and we haven't discovered that we're good at other things because we haven't put the time and effort into it?


The first part of the chapter focuses completely on language. I think the most interesting part about language are the four levels of analysis that make up language and the metaphors they use to make it more understandable.The first are phonemes, the sound of our language, which can be compared to the ingredients of a meal.The second are morphemes, the smallest units of meaningful speech, which are similar to the menu items. Syntax is the third level and it is like putting together a meal because it is the grammatical rules that dictate the way in which we compile words to have meaning. The fourth and final level is extralinguistic information which allows us to understand statements using cues that are not part of language but communication in general. They compare this to the overall dining experience. Next they move on to talk about reading and how we recognize words. The most interesting part of this section was when they pointed out how speed-reading is a hoax and although it may be possible to increase how quickly you read the consequences can definitely be seen when it comes to the level of comprehension. I also noticed that the topic of heuristics came up again (originally in chapter 2). They talk about cognitive economy and the how heuristics allow us to manage the minimum amount of data we need in order to function every day without getting overwhelmed. Overall I would say that this chapter is very interesting but maybe it should go earlier on the book because it seems to be basic information that helps the understanding of my in depth concepts.

Blog #1- Chapter 7

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Chapter 7 focuses on our memories. What we remember from the past and to what detail we can remember certain things. Research shows that we are often more accurate than you would think. There are several tests confirming that our memory is very powerful and some of the tests taking subjects 17 years into the past.
One of the more interesting parts of this chapter is a true story about a woman and her great memory. She has such an astounding memory that she can remember things that happened 20 years ago with great detail. Someone can ask her what she did on March 17, 1989, and she can tell them precisely what she was doing o that day. Research has shown she is right almost all the time. There is debate if this is a good thing or not. On the positive side she can remember the good things but at the same time she also has to remember and re-live all the negative memories. Personally I would not like this, I think it would be very hard to deal with knowing everything about your past.
The chapter also talks about the three systems of memory. Sensory memory, short-term, and long-term memory. Sensory is closely tied to the raw materials of our experiences. Short-term works with information at hand, transforming it into more meaningful material. Lastly long-term permits us to retain important information for memory that can last a lifetime.

Blog Entry #1; Chapter 14

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I read chapter 14 about personality. One of the very first topics mentioned in this chapter is the idea of Nature vs. Nurture. This is the concept of whether we get our personality traits from our environment or from our genes. Psychologists have found three basic broad influences on personality: genetic, shared environmental (experiences making family members similar,) nonshared (experiences making family members less alike.) One of the examples the book uses to show these influences is the personalities of a set of identical twins that were split at birth and raised by separate families in different countries. These twins participated in a twin study after being separated for about 40 years. After taking a formal personality questionnaire set up by Minnesota Psychologists, they found out their personalities were almost identical. Their personalities were "about as similar as that of the same person taking the test twice." This test suggests that genetic factors do contribute a great amount to one's personality.
I have experienced this in my own life with my mom. She was adopted when she was about 5 months old and separated from her birth mother until she was in her mid-twenties. She was raised in a very loving home with two parents, a brother, and occasionally a foster child. She eventually met up with her biological mother and they began talking monthly and would occasionally get together for lunch. My mom still kept very close contact with the mother that raised her and still considers that mom her "real" mother. However, I have spent a lot of time with my mom's non-biological mother (holidays, birthdays, etc.) and a fair amount of time with my mom's biological mother but in that time I have come to see how very similar my mother is to her biological mother. My mom and her non-biological mother have very little in common and although they get along, they have very different personalities. On the other hand my mom and her biological mother are very similar in personality. They are both extroverts, humorous, and are naturally energetic. It is weird to think that my mother is so similar to someone she never knew than someone that she spent every day of her life with for 18 years. This makes me believe that genetics influence personality more than environmental factors.
This chart shows a lot about how adoptive children relate to their adoptive and biological parents. http://wilderdom.com/images/intelligenceGraphHeritability.jpg

If you didn't read the title of this blog entry, Chapter 11 focuses on emotion and motivation. The chapter starts out by giving many different examples of emotions, and then it explains how we use our emotions to make decisions. The chapter then focuses on ways that you can show your emotions, whether it's from body language, gestures, etc. Perhaps the most interesting part of the first two sections of chapter eleven was the part about lying and lie detection. I chose not to read the text for this part, but I feel like lie detection has always been a debatable topic. Therefore, I can't wait to read about the truth behind the topic.

Enough about emotions, what does the author mention about motivation?

After skimming this part of chapter eleven, I believe that these sections are more interesting. This part starts out with a brief introduction of what motivation is. That introduction is followed by motivations related to food and sex, which might be interesting to read about since I am enrolled in the Evolution and Biology of Sex class here at the U; it will be interesting to see if anything mentioned in this book contradicts something from my other class's book. The chapter ends by attempting to answer many of our questions about dating, love, hate, etc.

Overall, I think this might be one of the more interesting chapters. I have always wondered if/why the popular beliefs of the American culture, such as "Opposites Attract", are right or wrong.


Chapter 14: Personality

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Chapter 14 in our textbook is all about personality. The chapter talks about how we can study personality, where our personalities come from, and how you can identify personality traits from behaviors of a person, as well as how their psyche causes them to have such behaviors and personality traits. This chapter will have us talking about Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory, the Humanistic Model of Personality, and personality assessments. This chapter will also touch briefly on that very controversial topic of whether personalities are a result of nature or nurture. Now, for those of you who, like me, enjoy watching the TV show Criminal Minds, this chapter may be particularly interesting to you because it seems to be talking about everything that criminal profilers take into account when they create a profile. If you watch this clip from Criminal Minds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPNvATtE3vA), you can see how one of the main characters uses the behaviors of another person to detail not only their life, but their personality as well. That is essentially what this chapter is about. It tells you how you can tell a person's personality from their behaviors and past experiences and how their personality, as well as behaviors, is influenced by their psyche and perhaps their past experiences.

Blog #1- Chapter 11

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While reading chapter 11 the section that I found most interesting was the "Importance of Nonverbal Cues" and "Body Language and Gestures". This caught my attention because I feel that you can learn a lot about a person based on how they carry themselves as well as their body language. Many times, you can detect how someone is feeling based on their facial expression even if they are trying not to show it. For example, if someone is trying to figure out a difficult math problem they may feel that they are thinking hard but look expressionless. However, someone watching them finish the math problem may see them with a puzzled face or tapping their pencil on the desk and perceive the person as being confused. Also, often times people are judged based on their body language such as during a job interview. Employers look for someone that is confident and now slouching down in their chair. A weak hand shake to an employer or a lack of eye contact may represent that you are intimidated or nervous. As you can see, body language plays a large role in presenting yourself and first impressions. It is important to be conscious about how you portray yourself when in certain situations. Below is a link to a website with further examples of decoding body language.


The information in chapter 4 is about our human senses and how they are not always right or are misleading. We all know how all of our senses work, but until I read this chapter I had never thought about them in the way it explains. Such as the way our brain multitasks and how we focus on specific inputs. Everyone trusts their senses, but they are not always right. This chapter talks about how our brain chooses the types of information it uses, it picks the information from past experiences. It explains how our brain has a sensory field, and that our senses work from the senses meeting the brain with three things; whats in the sensory field, what was there a moment ago and what we remember from our past.

What I found most interesting about this chapter is our the way our hearing works. There are vibrations of air molecules that create the sound waves, and then creates pressure to the cochlea, then the hair cells are enclosed. The message is then sent through the auditory nerve. I have always wondered why we lose our hearing as we get older, and I found out that it's because we lose our sensory cells. Our cochlea changes with age, and the hairs of the cochlea are lost over time and the nerve endings often deaden, and our hairs don't grow back which is why we lose hearing with age.


Chapter 4 deals with the human senses, and how they can be misleading in how we perceive the world around us. We trust our senses to interpret the world, but sometimes they give us the wrong readings or fill in the blanks with the wrong information. For example, if you are going down certain stairways for the first times you may reach a step that is slightly shorter than the rest, when you looked at the stairway your eyes saw each step as the same and all the other steps were the same, but then you hit that one step which may only be an quarter of an inch shorter and you trip. According to all the information your brain received from your sight that step should have been the same as the others, but it was not but and you tripped or stumbled. An example of your senses filling something in is when you are on the phone with someone and their is bad static, your brain usually fills in the blanks with things that make sense like the auto correct on your cell phone when you're texting.


Something that really peaked my interest in the chapter was this preceding image. The book says when people look at this picture for the first time they usually see one of two images an old woman or a young lady. In the book the picture is in black and white and all I could see was the young lady but when I saw the color copy online I immediately saw the old woman. For some reason, color made the difference for me in seeing both interpretations of the image.

Chapter 1, as many of us have now read, is a brief summary of what Psychology is and a in depth analysis of what it is not. The idea of pseudoscience is the main premiss of this chapter, specifically, how we, as scientific thinkers, can detect the warning signs of pseudoscience.

While reading the chapter, the part that I found the most interesting was the concept of apophenia and pareidolia. If you can not remember, these are drawing meaningful connections or visual images from unrelated phenomena or meaningless visual stimuli. I was shocked by the commonalities between former presidents Lincoln and Kennedy. With facts similar to the ones provided in the book about the presidents, it is easy to see why some people believe that there is some sort of link between the two incidents.

Another interesting part of the chapter for me was the side note about "The Face on Mars." The book shows an image where the shadows and lighting clearly make the face jump out at you, and then another where we see "The Face on Mars" in its true form as just another bump on Mars' vast surface. I enjoyed this section because I have a knack for looking for things like this around me, specifically people who look like animals.

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Blog Entry #1 - Chapter 10

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Chapter 10 mentions the subject of nature vs. nurture, which almost everyone is a little familiar with. Lilienfeld mentions her definition of nature via nurture being individuals with certain attitudes about things or specific ways of acting, which look for or create environments where they can express these ways. The environments we look for are generally like the ones we grew up in, which usually are shared along with our parents. Another thing we share with our parents are the genes they have passed down to us. Lilienfeld also writes that environments and genes depend on one another, and this got me thinking of the move Freedom Writers.

The kids at Woodrow Wilson High School state that they kill for race, pride, and respect, and many are against each other. The freshman and sophomores' attending the school are put in a class with Mrs. Gruwell, a white teacher they don't think understands them because of where she came from, which was different from all of them. We find out each of these kids have their own story to tell, but their stories are all relatively similar due to the environments they all grew up in were much the same. These environments are what caused the kids to believe they had to kill for race, pride, and respect. This is what went on around them growing up, and may have been in the genes their parents passed down to them. This brings us back to what I stated above about Lilienheld mentioning that individuals want to surround themselves in environments that fir their own attitudes and ways of acting. One of the teachers in the movie tells Mrs. Gruwell that no one can make the kids want an education. Well, being in school with teachers and rules directing these kids on what to do and how to do it is an environment that does not fit many of their attitudes or ways of doing things. Therefore, many students don't follow the rules, do their homework, respect their teachers or overall, want an education. Ms. Gruwell formed her classroom to be a place where both of these environments could come together, so she could convince the students' to want an education and to pursue their education past high school. A place where she could teach the students that the color of your skin and where you came from does not have in influence where they are going. Not many people want to grow up in an environment that they are fighting wars against one another every day, but there are people who end up in the position. This is usually because it is a position their parents are also fighting, and a position they never left so now their children are also.

Blog Entry #1 - Chapter 6

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The text in chapter 6 discussed the different ways one is able to learn. I particularly found reading about observational learning quite interesting. Because of my love for kids, I was fascinated to read more in depth how observational learning is their main learning source. Although, I have realize children are not the only ones who emulate this way of learning, I do as well. I recently started a new job serving at a restaurant. Upon starting, my manager did not give me a long list of all that I had to do, instead she required me to shadow an existing waitress to gain knowledge of how she interacts with customers. This allowed me to learn by simply watching someone else operate. In many cases, this is the exact same thing children do. The watch people who surround them such as parents and teachers, and act similarly to them. In the textbook the authors discuss how children are more likely to act aggressively when they are exposed to aggressive role models and or violent media such as movies, TV shows or video games. Children who are surrounded in these types of atmospheres are brought up to believe this is the proper way to act in society. To track this behavior, investigators use a method called longitudinal, where they document a persons behavior over time. Although psychologist cannot fully explain the means of aggression, exposure to aggression growing up is a strong contender.

Here is a photo that visually displays what I just discussed above.

Blog Entry 1 - Chapter 6

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The information in chapter 6 is all about learning and classical conditioning. I found it really interesting how classical conditioning is apparent in our everyday lives. Advertisers use classical conditioning in ads to get us to buy their products. Images of some enjoyable or desirable stimulus are paired with the product being advertised. Through classical conditioning, we begin to associate the stimulus with the product being sold. Advertisers often use images of celebrities in advertisements in order to use classical conditioning to their advantage.

Jennifer Aniston SmartWater 2.jpg

For example, this ad for SmartWater includes a picture of Jennifer Aniston, one of my favorite actresses. This ad may cause me to buy more SmartWater because my favorite actress is featured in the ad.

Do you think that that you are influenced by classical conditioning through ads? If so what are some of your examples?

Chapter 15, entitled Psychological Disorders, goes into the realm of most common psychological disorders such as anxiety, phobias, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and psychopathic disorder - to name a few. The chapter covers statistics, misconceptions, symptoms, and explanations of such disorders.

What I found most interesting about the chapter weren't any of the actual disorders, but the Culture-Bound Syndromes that were not mentioned in the Chapter. The psychological disorders that we may experience in our Western world, are far from what people in other countries/cultures experience. There are syndromes that are specific to parts of the world such as Alaska, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The one that I found most interesting is Windigo - a morbid state of anxiety with fears of becoming a cannibal, common to Native Americans as well as some parts of Canada.

Figure 15.3 was also fairly interesting, demonstrating how many people commit suicide on certain areas of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Blog Entry 1: Chapter 12

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Chapter 12 "Stress, Coping, and Health-the mind-body connection" strongly focuses on the different ways in which individuals deal with stress. The chapter stresses the importance of peoples everyday decisions and actions, and how these decisions can and will affect one's health in the present but also one's future. Many people forget that the decisions he or she makes, such as adopting bad eating habits or even forgetting to exercise on a regular basis, will dramatically affect his or her health mentally and physically in the future. Also, I found it rather alarming how one is much more likely to illnesses such as Coronary Heart Failure due to how stressed one can be. Because people who are under a lot of stress risk undergoing more heart attacks or having higher blood pressure, this can easily make one more prone to suffering from Coronary Heart Failure later on (Lilienfeld, 468). There are many different ways to deal with stress, and this chapter definitely emphasizes the significance in properly dealing with one's stress and health so that he or she is less likely to face more severe consequences in the future.

As college students, we are all prone to the very stressful life of a student- managing a full course load, possibly working to pay for the increasingly expensive tuition, and, hopefully, enjoying a social life. According to a recent survey highlighted by the video:

students are facing more stress now than ever. So how do we, those stressed out students, deal with this stress? According to Lilienfeld in, we can cope with stress by having social support and by gaining control and being flexible to adjust coping strategies and accounting for individual differences is important.
"Social support encompasses interpersonal relations with people, groups, and the larger community," according to Lilienfeld (470). This could come in multiple forms such as a friend providing us emotional support, a parent providing us with financial support, or a school adviser providing us with information.
We can gain control of situations to cope, and hopefully alleviate, stress. According to Lilienfeld there are five types of control: behavioral control (doing something to reduce the cause of the stress), cognitive control (to think differently about stresses), decision control (choose an alternative), informational control (learn more about the stress), and emotional control (suppress and express emotions). All these types of control can be used singly or in conjunction together.
We must also keep in mind that we should be flexible in our coping, or as put by Lilienfeld, "adjust coping strategies as the situation demands" (472). Also, always remember that everyone is different and therefore stress affects us all differently.

I will use some of my own life as an example of the stress I have dealt with this past semester and how I cope with that stress. As highlighted in the video by Dr. Jason Pina, students have pressures to do well and go to college even though, for the first time, we are facing not being as successful as our parents. I certainly share these stresses coming from parents who did reasonably well in high school and went to college and have been very successful in their careers. When I look at the job prospects after graduation, I see that I, a student who has done extremely well in high school and thus far in college, will have to work considerably harder to be as successful as my parents. To deal with this stress and not become overwhelmed, I have gotten social support from my college adviser in how to do well in school and also support from CAPE at the University on what to do after graduation and promising job prospects. I have also found that gaining control of the situation has helped. I used two types of control together to help; cognitive control, by thinking only positively about my future, and informational control by discovering a minor that could lead to multiple back up plans.

So now I ask you: How do you cope with stress? Do you find yourself using any of the above suggestions?

Welcome to the world of Blogging!

For many of you this will be a new experience and hopefully a fun creative way to communicate, introspect, and reflect on ideas that will be generated by this course and your daily lives.

The word "blog" is the byproduct of "web" and "log" and is an interactive website somewhat like an online journal with diverse subjects where people can post ideas, articles, commentary, videos, music, links and controversial topics.

Our hope is that this blog can help you develop critical thinking skills and have fun doing so!


Some good tips for writing a good blog post:
1. Pick a concept or idea from Psy 1001 lectures or the Lilienfeld text that you found interesting over the past two weeks. Summarize this in your own words and tell your readers why you think this is important, interesting, or why you might challenge it.
2. Apply this to some aspect of your life or someone else's life that you know personally. Tell us why you think this is relevant and what interests you about this.
3. Make your post creative! Use a variety of media such as photos, videos, and other links as a way to entice your readers.
4. Reading others' blogs and commenting on them is a good way to stimulate thinking about your own blog.
5. Write clearly and precisely. Posts should be short and focused and on topic.
6. Ending your blog post with a question will encourage other readers to respond to your blog.

This link will also provide good tips on how to write a good blog:

The 4 pillars of exceptional blogs

WRITING #1:DEADLINE Before next Discussion Section on Jan. 26th
Blog entries are worth 5 points each:
Concepts (0-3 pts), Mechanics (0-1 pts) Clarity of writing (0-1 pts)

Please read your syllabus for more details

And have fun!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2012 is the next archive.

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